Many people love the holidays, but others tend to get the Holiday Blues. Our expert Psychologist Dr. Rosalind Dorlen Suggests her top reasons why people feel stress during the holiday season and why for some people that stress has become even greater because of the effects of the Super Storm Sandy.
Symptoms of stress: Prolonged sadness or depression, high levels of anxiety, uneasiness, stomach ailments, increased irritability, and sleep or eating disturbances (either too much or too little).
Top Causes of Holiday Stress:
1. Overdoing: That includes "over drinking", "over shopping", "over cooking", "over spending", and "over the top with family and family responsibilities".
2. Loss: Either of loved ones, loss of property including the upset over the effects of the storm Sandy, sometimes the loss is what is missing from one's ideal of what a happy family is supposed to be or how a family "should be".
3. Unrealistic Expectations: Of what the holiday should be like and what you should be doing.
4. Family Issues: That come up when families get together.
5. Financial Pressures: The economy, job loss or underemployment.
What is Resilience? The ability to "Bounce Back" from traumatic and highly stressful events. Resilience is not a trait. It is a set of tools that you can learn to reduce stress in your life.
Tools To Improve Your Resilience.
1. Be reasonable with your expectations of the holiday season- Don't overschedule yourself till you are exhausted. Organize your time and priorities.
2. Take care of yourself – e.g., avoid too much sugar, find time to walk, exercise, do yoga, do deep breathing exercises, relax by reading or listening to music.
3. Volunteer to help someone else – Make the focal point about the holiday season a time to focus on families and individuals in need, e.g., a homeless shelter, soup kitchen, Red Cross or any community service project that includes your family and/or friends.
4. Find a way to trigger off your sense of humor - e.g., watch a light movie, spend some time with people you can have fun with.
5. Try to avoid disappointment - Adjust your unrealistic expectations that there will be a magic solution to your family dilemmas just because this is the holiday season.
6. Seek support – Talk about your concerns about the stress in your life with trusted friends and family members. If you continue to be overwhelmed by stress particularly as it relates to the combination of holiday stress and the storm Sandy, consider talking to a psychologist who can help you develop effective strategies to manage your stress.
7. Be active – Get physical. You don't have to run a marathon to be active. Try taking a walk or going on a bicycle ride or visiting a community park.
8. Avoid overindulging - That means in alcohol or other unhealthy stress reducing behaviors. They don't help in the long run and can create even more problems for you and your family.